When Ants Sense Danger
WADEA Omrany notes a new scientific miracle in Surah Al-Naml (“Ants”), Verse number 18. This new miracle is about the scientific discovery that ants communicate with each other, especially when informing of impending danger.
God says what means in Surah Al-Naml: “At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: ‘O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts should crush you (under foot without knowing it).” (27:18)
The ant reported the imminent danger facing them in four successive stages as follow:
“O ye ants” – this is the first alarm given by the ant to draw the attention of the other ants quickly. On receiving this alarm, the other ants stand alert to receive the other signals given by the same speaker ant.
“Get into your habitations” – here the speaker ant follows up with another signal, ordering the ants to take the next step.
“Lest Solomon and his hosts should crush you” – in these words, the speaker ant shows the reason for this danger to her fellow ants.
“Without knowing it” – the ants, as a reaction to the previous alarms, will make a certain kind of defense, with these last few words. The ant shows its fellow ants that they don’t have to attack the source of danger because it is not from a real enemy; the danger doesn’t aim to attack the kingdom of ants since Solomon and his soldiers don’t know of the ants in their way.
Here’s what science says in this context.
Ants use chemical communication in situations of alarm and defense, when the fast exchange of information is necessary, and when they face expected danger. This alarm is generally expressed by the emission of chemical signals. The protective glands are responsible for the roles of alarm and defense.
The Australian ant is a case in point. When these ants face danger, they secrete some droplets from their protective gland – so that their fellow ants run and make a vibration with their antennas showing that they are in a state of alert.
The first substance detected by the ants is an aldehyde hexanal. This draws their attention. As a result, they agitate and raise their antennae to search for other odors.
When they detect hexanol (the first message was in the form of alcohol), the ants go into a state of alert and run in all directions in search of the source of the problem. When undecanone is emitted, it attracts the ants toward the source of danger and makes them bite all foreign objects in the anthill. Finally, when they come closer to the target, they discern the butyloctenal, which increases their aggression and their readiness to sacrifice themselves.
Chemical communication is the most important method of communication for ants. They give out different kinds of substances, each having a different code denoting a certain message.
These messages are the same as those of the ant in Surah Al-Naml Verse 18.
The substances that an ant gives out of its body in a situation like this are divided into four, with each substance having a certain language and code.
The successive scientific stages of the reaction of the ants are as follows:
* aldéhyde hexanal is the first chemical substance that an ant emits if it senses danger. It is like a siren. On receiving this substance, ants begin to gather at one point where they remain alert and ready to receive the rest of the signals. This identifies with the first phrase uttered by the ant in the holy verse “O ye ants.”
* Then the ant emits the second chemical substance, hexanol. On receiving this substance, the ants begin to run in all directions to determine the source of this substance. The ant that emits the chemical substance should determine the way lest the rest of the ants stray elsewhere. And this is what the ant of Prophet Solomon did when it asked the other ants to enter their habitations by saying ” get into your habitations.” This is an instruction from the speaker ant to its fellows to go in the direction of the habitations. So, it must have determined the way and this is the same as directing the movement of ants in general.
* Undécanone is the third substance that the ant emits.
This substance shows the cause of the danger, and that was what the ant did when it said in the third phrase “lest Solomon and his hosts should crush you (under foot).” In this stage, the ants that receive this substance get ready to face the impending danger.
* In the fourth stage, the speaker ant emits butylocténal. This substance gives an order of defense and determines the kind of defense. And so it was said in the last phrase “without knowing it.” By doing so, the ant prevented the other ants from entering the stage of an attack that would lead to death.
So Prophet Solomon smiled tenderly and mercifully as if saying they needn’t worry as he had seen them and would not allow any harm to befall them.
These scientific facts were mentioned in the Holy Qur’an more than 1,400 years ago.